One of the first large subdivisions in Douglas County, Perry Park was originally settled as one ranch owned by John Perry, railroad baron, in the 1870s. The area's natural beauty was noted early, as Perry and his business partners hired famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead to design a town in the 1880s. That project failed, but in the late 1960s, Lee Stubblefield and the Colorado Western Development Company planned a community that now is home to more than 750 families. The Douglas County History Research Center has extensive collections on Perry Park, including photographs of houses under construction and the papers of Ardis Webb and Sally Maguire, Perry Park historians. A book: The Perry Park Story, by Ardis Webb and Sally Maguire is available for sale from the DCHRC.
Today's Prairie Canyon Ranch, part of Douglas County Open Space, was once the Bartuff-Bihlmeyer Ranch. The photographic collection shows a cross section of ranch life- from branding cattle to harvesting fields and a little bit of fun in between.
The 978 acre ranch has seen cattle grazing for nearly 150 years, but evidence of Native American activity goes back 10,000 years in the area. Pottery and other stone age tools have been found nearby. It is believed to have been a winter camp, as there is not much evidence of long term residence or agricultural activity.
Beginning in the 1980s, Bob Shultz raised Texas Longhorns and plains bison on the property. He felt that the land should be protected, so worked with Douglas County, Great Outdoors Colorado, and the Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust to preserve the ranch in perpetuity.
CDR as the Continental Divide Raceway was known, was a racetrack built just south of Castle Rock, Colorado in 1959. It had multiple tracks for different kinds of races. CDR was most popular in the 1960s with professional sports car races including the Trans-Am series. The track was closed in 1979 after a fatal accident, reopened in 1981, but the land was sold to developers in 1983. The development south of Castle Rock failed, and the land remains vacant.
The Town of Castle Rock was first platted in 1874 to be the Douglas County seat. The railroad came in 1875, when the town's population was 88, and for most of its history the small but slowly growing town of was the center of retail and government in Douglas County. Explosive growth in the 1990s and 2000s increased the population from 580 in 1940 to almost 50,000 in 2013. Today it is the 17th largest municipality in Colorado.
Sedalia is located at the confluence of East and West Plum Creeks. The town site of Sedalia, Colorado was originally laid out by Jonathan Craig in 1865 as the Town of Round Corral. When the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad opened their depot in 1871, the depot was renamed "Plum" but the post office was "Sedalia" after the hometown of postmaster Henry Clay, formerly of Sedalia, Missouri. The depot changed its name in 1882, and from then on, the town with a population of about 100 was known as Sedalia. Highway 86 now runs just outside the town, but it used to be right through the center, parallel to the railroad tracks. The retail establishments on the north side of the tracks developed with the railroads, and included a hotel, general store, post office and grange. Sedalia suffered great damage in the flood of 1965, when both East and West Plum Creeks overran their banks and destroyed bridges, roads and buildings throughout Douglas County.
The Town of Parker grew up around the old Cherokee Trail, a route bringing trappers, traders and settlers between Bent's Fort in southern Colorado and Fort Bridger in Wyoming. The Pine Grove Post Office was the first building in Parker, built in 1862. The 20 Mile House, near the intersection of the Cherokee Trail and the Smoky Hill Trail (and 20 miles from Denver) grew up around this post office. James Sample Parker was the postmaster when the Denver and New Orleans Railroad came through in 1882, and he renamed the town Parker because there was already a Pine Grove on the railroad's line. The Parker Consolidated School opened in 1914, combining several smaller school districts. The railroad was destroyed in a flood in 1935 and not replaced. As with much of Douglas County, growth in the 1990s and 2000s was its main story. Parker's population in 1980 was 290 people, and in 2010 topped 45,000.